I was 78 when I died. I was a pilot based in a little town called Hamburg of Old Earth. It was nothing compared to today's cities, but it was home. After the King resurrected me and he mopped up the mess that the world had become, he called for the resurrected to stand before him and give an account of their lives. When the day finally came, it was a mix of fascination, excitement, and fear.
I watched with amazement as the new King of the World sat nobly upon his throne. The freshly renovated architecture rose from Mount Zion in curved beauty. The nature in which the Christ King had returned and established his kingdom on the Earth was still fresh on everyone’s mind.
Thousands were in attendance, but the silence of the room did not betray the massive crowd. The chamber was packed, which included a host of angelic servants lining the edge of the stage. The world was truly watching, as it was broadcast across the skies in grand borealis. None who stepped before the King’s throne thought much of the onlookers. The focus was completely and entirely on the one who had conquered the world in a matter of minutes and now sat powerfully upon his judgment seat, listening to the accounts of his subjects.
It was nearly my turn to give account. Only two others remained, and then it would be my time to stand before the King. I was nervous and excited at the same time.
“The court calls Fred Franklin Forrester,” a powerful baritone voice rang out, announcing that the next accounting had begun. I watched Fred, a man I had never met, stepping from his seat to the marble underfoot. He paused in the middle of the room, standing atop the King’s golden insignia, bowed low to the floor, then arose. A deeper quiet permeated the hall as the King took a breath and spoke.
“Hello Fred,” King Yeshua said calmly. All eyes were on Fred now. Fred was sweating.
“Good morning, my Lord,” Fred said with a quiver in his voice. I noticed that he was shaking where he stood. I glanced from Fred to the King. A long, knowing stare was shared between Yeshua and the man who would soon give the account. There was compassion written upon the face of the King, but it was mixed with iron.
“Let us begin, shall we?” the King said. I held my breath as the accounting got underway. I hoped for a good outcome for my fellow believer.
“My Lord, at my new birth, You invested in me, generous spiritual gifts—" Fred's words were shattered by his emotion. His features grew hard as if what he was about to say would hurt. “You allowed me thirty-seven years of mortal life, after my salvation. You gave me numerous opportunities to do good work for you.”
“But I was afraid of speaking to others about you. I was afraid, so I didn’t try. Most of my life after my new birth was spent pursuing my own interests. I wasted every minute from the time I became a believer until the time of the death of my body.” With that line, Fred broke. Tears streamed from his eyes. Even I sniffled a little as I watched. The regret was palpable. The King let a silent moment laden with disappointment fill the court. His eyes did not leave Fred, though, he could hardly bear to return the stare.
“Do you have anything to show for the investment that I placed in you?” The King asked, clearly disappointed in Fred's report. A long breath and exhale deflated the man nearly completely. His arms seemed to dangle, and his head bowed even lower.
“I have only what you have given me, my eternal life, and nothing more.” An audible gasp spread across the room. Whispers could be heard from all around. This accounting was bad, indeed. Usually, there was something, a few instances of good work. Rarely had there been such a poor accounting. With those fateful words, Fred Forrester's accounting was ended. It was now time for the righteous Emperor to deliver his judgment.
I leaned back in my chair, knowing that my turn would be soon. There was comfort in knowing that Fred was eternally saved, but a true sadness at the opportunities that he would miss. He would spend the everlasting eons in the Kingdom of God with the others who had believed in Christ. His sins had been paid for by the very King who sat before him, but his mortal life after salvation had been wasted.
“Fred, you were a wicked, lazy servant,” the King said with a long sigh. “I gave you so many opportunities to excel. Yet you chose time and again to deny me and even pretend I had not given you eternal life.” All this he said without raising his voice. It seemed painful for King Yeshua to speak such words.
With the judgment, Fred began to bellow loudly. His emotions were uncontainable. He withered into a heap on the floor, bowing low on his knees with face to the ground as sobs of deep remorse echoed throughout the chamber. King Yeshua continued, as Fred looked up from where he kneeled with drenched eyes.
“Take note, everyone, that Fred Forrester denied me before others, so now, in sight of my Father and the angels, I deny him the right to reign with me in my Kingdom. His portion and inheritance in this Kingdom is nothing more than his eternal salvation. Fred, you are allowed to wander freely through the kingdom. However, I cannot allow you entrance into the privileged places where only the faithful can go. You must remain in the darkness outside this city.”
“Thank you for your mercy, My King,” Fred cried tearfully. He rose and walked toward the exit. There was no applause.
"The court calls Mariah Ashley Levy,” the same voice said, hardly letting a pause pass. I felt my body tense as I realized I would be next. The woman rose to her feet and glided gracefully to the center of the room. There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary about her. She wore a pleasant enough smile and took a respectful posture. Her demeanor was entirely different from the former one who stood the accounting. She waited confidently, but without a single tinge of pride.
“Mariah, I’ve been looking forward to this,” the Emperor said as if to an old friend. The room seemed to hum with a warm amber light. Mariah inclined her head slightly as a loving grin tugged at the corner of her mouth.
“It's an honor to stand before you, My King,” she said as she knelt into a picturesque curtsy. She crossed her arms over her chest as one knee kissed the marble floor gracefully. She rose once again.
“Let us begin,” the Emperor said with a look of enjoyment written with his excited posture.
“Yes, My Lord. At my new birth, you invested in me generous spiritual gifts. I used the skills of service and administration, which you vested in me to further your work in the world. Most of my time was spent doing paperwork for missionaries abroad. I often thought I was making no difference at all, but I continued in hopes of pleasing you. Until I arrived here, I did not know the impact my service had.” She said as a tear crested the corner of her eye. Unlike the last, this was no tear of remorse, but one of pure joy.
“What return on my investment have you produced?” the Emperor asked.
“You know, Lord, that no less than 49,336 souls are in your kingdom because of the work you allowed your servant to do. Many of them are faithful disciples.”
The room first gasped and then erupted in applause. I was swept up in the celebration as a standing ovation followed. Even the Emperor was on his feet now. His hands thundered together with the crowd as he descended the steps before his throne. Emperor Yeshua stepped to Mariah Levy and wrapped his arms around her as she returned the embrace. At their touch, her appearance changed. Her hair flushed completely white, and her body took on a shimmering quality that reflected the Lord's own light around the massive chamber.
After a moment’s hug, he pulled back and said something private to her, and handed her something that we in the crowd could not see. He spoke to her quietly for a few seconds as she nodded. He then produced a crown and placed it upon her head. The crowd cheered even more. The crown was not as splendid as the King’s own, but it shone more brightly than any given in any of the accountings that I had seen. It contained six golden rings.
“This is my faithful servant and friend,” Emperor Yeshua said as he turned to the audience. “She was obedient in every small task I gave her,” he said, smiling. “Even paperwork.” At that, everyone laughed joyously. He turned to her and placed his hand upon her shoulder.
“Because of your great faithfulness in small things, I name you chancellor of the Continent Formerly Known as the Americas. Your first task is to rename it.” The Emperor allowed there to be a pause for her to think. It was not long before she produced a very fitting name.
“The Continent that was formerly known as the Americas will now be called Kingland,”she said with a broad smile.
“It is as you have said,” The Emperor said. “Rule Kingland well, my good and faithful servant. I will be ever close to you.”
Once more, she bowed low before her Lord. One more hug was shared between Mariah and the King. He turned to climb back to his throne as she spun toward the exit. The cheers were deafening as she walked from the room. I had not expected a chief royalty position to be awarded right before my own accounting. I celebrated for her in my heart, though I was quite sure my own accounting would not be nearly so glorious.
“The court calls Hans Jürgen Schneider,” The angelic voice trumpeted. Finally, it was my turn. I stood and began toward the center of the room. All eyes were on me. I paused at the center of the floor. My heart was beating fast. I was face to face with my Savior and King. I was both filled with excitement and anxiety. It was intoxicating. In that moment, and even to this day, I want nothing more than to please His Majesty. All the desires I had ever experienced had become a dim memory compared to my longing to make my Creator proud.
“Welcome, Hans,” the Emperor said with a warm tone.
“Thank you, My King,” I replied as I bowed my head low.
“Let us begin,” the Lord of the Kingdom said, now training his full attention on me. Something happened at once. I had been told of the quickening but had no way of preparing for it in advance. Nor did I have any clue of the feelings it would shake loose. I felt as if my spirit was pulled from my body.
In an instant, I could see my entire life. It was not like seeing an image or even a sequence, but instead, every moment of my 78-year existence was superimposed on top of one another. I could see my life, not as a timeline of events but as a whole. It was a mass of light and wonder. I stared at the ball of illumination, realizing how fantastic a gift my life was. For that matter, any life, even one lasting only seconds, is a thing of infinite worth. I watched intently at the ball of light that represented my achievements done while I was in my body, both good and bad.
I had been born again when I was twenty-one. I remembered the night fondly. The piano, which was always a little out of tune, played as the preacher called for the congregation to consider the promise of eternal life. At the moment of my saving faith, the light shined brightly in me. I was given the spiritual gift of evangelism and teaching by the King. It wasn't long before the excitement began to fade. The concerns of my fast-paced life surrounded me almost at once. I allowed my work hours to be my main excuse for unfaithfulness.
I scarcely used my spiritual gifts for the following decade until I had children. My children softened my heart, but mostly raising them scared me. My fear drove me and my family back to the church, where we began to grow. I was forty-eight when I began to teach a small Bible study. I was nervous at first but came to love my discussions with the small group of men I taught.
I spent the rest of my life going through phases of varying devotion to Christ. I was never as committed, obedient, or consistent as I would have liked, but I never abandoned the Lord either.
As I stared down at my life's achievements, I was so immersed; it took me a moment to realize that I was not alone in my own mind. I had been looking at the glowing ball of memories, but it was not only my eyes that gazed upon the mental landscape. I sensed the presence of the Emperor even there in my mind. Without words, we both looked at my life together. I lamented at the places of unfaithfulness and reveled in those times when I had drawn near to my Creator. I felt Yeshua's warm agreement with that assessment as well.
Suddenly a white-hot light flashed in my mind. Frightening at first, I reeled only to find that the blast of light was subsiding. Still not alone, I watched Christ as he set a blaze to the ball of light that represented the sum of my life. I did not understand at first, but as I watched, it became clear. The Emperor was burning all the unfaithful acts, the disobedience, and the unworthy deeds. He set a white-hot torch to the glowing orb that represented my life's work.
The moments of unfaithfulness began to wither and disintegrate in the flame that Yeshua had set in my mind. I was happy to see the landscape change. The burden; the offenses; the guilt; they were burned up with the scorching heat of Christ's presence. However, not all was burned away.
A twinkle in the dying fire remained. It was hard to find at first, but as my eyes adjusted in the changing light, I could see that some good had remained. I was left with an assortment of shining images that had withstood the flame. Some remaining pictures sparkled like precious stones; others were like polished gold and silver. Each image represented acts of obedience and faithfulness. More beautiful still stood the images of those who had come to belief and faithfulness because of my work. As I looked at the final results of my life, I knew these were what I would be rewarded for.
Suddenly, the scene in my mind was pushed away, and I was once again standing alone before the Emperor in his royal court. The entire experience had taken no time at all, or if it had, it was less than the span of a heartbeat. Though it was short in time, it had an eternal effect that I could already feel. I knew it was time for me to give account aloud. I understood now what I was to say.
“My Lord, at my new birth, you invested in me generous spiritual gifts, among them evangelism and teaching. With these gifts, I could have been more faithful. I wasted years of my life in selfish pursuits. However, in my later years, I became more obedient and worked for you more faithfully than in my former years.”
“What return do you have to show for my investment?” the Emperor asked.
“Twenty-seven souls are here in the kingdom as a result of the work you gave me to complete, and two hundred and thirteen more will be rewarded for their faithfulness because of the work you gave me to do on Earth,” I said. There was a wash of joy in the utterance. I could have been more faithful, but I was pleased with the work I had to show. I was pleased because the Emperor was pleased. I was pleased because my faithfulness meant I would be allowed a special closeness with him throughout eternity.
Although the applause was not as uproarious as Mariah Levy's and not so silent as Fred Forrester's, there was a measure of cheering. The Emperor rose from his throne and stepped toward me. My pulse ran high, and my muscles tensed. I was exhilarated to be this near the King. Yeshua stretched out his hand. We shook as the Emperor placed his other palm on my shoulder. At once, I felt the change. My hair changed to white, and my skin shone, albeit less brightly than his.
“Well done. You had some rough years, but you finished strong. I'm proud of you,” the Emperor said, where only I could hear it. I could have melted in a pile. To know that the King, who always speaks the truth, was proud of me will be something I will celebrate throughout eternity. The Emperor continued, “I'm excited to work with you; we have many great years ahead of us.” As he said this, he produced a crown of five rings and placed it upon my head. He placed a white stone in my palm with a new name written on it. Emperor Yeshua then whispered my new name into my ear. It's a name that only he and I know. I could not breathe at the exhilaration.
King Yeshua stepped beside me. Addressing the crowd with a powerful voice, the Emperor said, “Because of his faithfulness, I'm appointing Hans Jürgen Schneider Low King of the Province of Tamesh.”
I bowed my head once more and stepped toward the Exit. The applause continued as I walked through the golden doors and into my new assignment.